Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

CVPH Medical Center Foundation/The Foundation of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

May 2018

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

November 2015 – October 2017

As one of the most rural counties in New York State, Clinton County is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. But despite its great potential for outdoor physical activity, rural Clinton County is in the bottom quarter of counties in New York State on measures of access to physical activity.

Many of the activities that tourists come for are inaccessible to low-income residents of the county because of the costs involved and unreliable transportation. During the winter months, in particular, it is difficult to find low-cost, accessible opportunities for physical activity. One-quarter of residents report being physically inactive. Lack of physical activity helps to explain the high rates of obesity among children and adults in Clinton County, where one out of every three adults and one out of every five children are obese. The scientific evidence is compelling that investment in close-to-home recreation and park services is associated with significantly higher rates of physical activity that lead to better health. Studies have also shown a positive relationship between investment in parks and recreation and the amount of exercise by young people.

NYHealth awarded a grant to the Foundation of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) to partner with local parks and recreation departments to increase opportunities for and accessibility to physical activity for residents of Clinton County.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Renovated and retrofitted unused outdoor spaces for public use, with a total of 28 indoor and outdoor pickleball courts and 2 soccer golf courses built or upgraded (exceeding its goal of 10 spaces for public use); and
  • Established a summer Fitness in the Parks program in five municipalities (one town short of its original goal of six) to offer youth age-appropriate physical activity opportunities such as archery, karate, hip-hop dance, and yoga.

Organized pickleball and soccer golf leagues are very active in and around the city of Plattsburgh and the demand is growing. During the course of this project, Clinton County Parks and Recreation staff maintained the renovated courts, as well as coordinated organized leagues to increase their use by residents. Agreements have since been established with the towns to provide permanent oversight and maintenance of the courts. One of the soccer golf courses also has adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nutrition snack guidelines to offer healthier, more nutritious foods and beverages at its concession stands.

The Fitness in the Parks program was less successful. CVPH fell short of its goal to recruit municipalities for participation in the Fitness in the Parks program by one town; it lacked the staff capacity for labor-intensive community outreach specifically for the program. During the project’s first year, 738 youth registered for the Fitness in the Parks programs, with less than 60% participation. During the second year of the grant project, CVPH gave all Clinton County municipalities an opportunity to apply for program support funding to boost participation in the program. Seven towns from small communities throughout the county were chosen and a total of 545 youth participated in 2017. Actual attendance of youth who registered for the Fitness in the Parks program also continued to be an issue during the second year of the grant. Local recreation staff has suggested that instituting a small registration fee in the future would increase registrants’ commitment to attend, although that has to be weighed against the disincentive to register. Sustainability for the Fitness in the Parks program is uncertain; it will be determined by the availability of support funds being generated by CVPH, so programming has yet to be made permanent.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: $25,353 was contributed through various local private and public sources.